ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at
MP staff. I talk about Star Wars a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it. More ramblings on Twitter @ExtraTremeerial
Eleanor Tremeer

[Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158)new villain, Kylo Ren was an especially interesting character. By emulating Darth Vader he ensured we got a legacy story in Star Wars 7, and Ren's actions in the film's finale solidified his status as a big bad villain. But there's a new theory that calls all of this into doubt, and it might mean that Kylo Ren's not nearly as evil as we thought...

Spoilers ahead: consider yourself warned!

If you're still reading this I'm gonna go ahead and assume you've seen the movie, so let me state this more plainly: what if Kylo Ren didn't actually mean to kill his father, Han Solo? That's the hypothesis laid out in this theory and at first it seems quite convincing...

Did Han Kill Himself To Save Kylo Ren?

According to this theory, Han Solo ignited Ren's lightsaber himself. Somehow, he knew that Supreme Leader Snoke would kill Kylo Ren if he didn't pass the test...

"Kylo/Ben journey to the dark side required him to kill his father. Han knew this and knew Snoke would kill his son if he failed this task. By Han activating the lightsaber himself Kylo can still go back to Snoke and report that the deed is done."

All of this was Han's plan to lead his son back to the Light... eventually.

"The fact that it wasn't really him that killed his father ensures there will always be a smidge of light left in him that can never be snuffed out. Thus Han's sacrifice will succeed in his promise to bring their son home."

It's a nice idea, and adds a note of dramatic irony to this tragedy. If this really was Han's plan, it also allows him a sense of agency in his final moments. But honestly, this doesn't match up at all with the canon, and here's why.

The Novel Confirms Ren Killed Han Solo

I mean, that's gotta be point one for debunking. The Force Awakens novelisation is considered canon, and has already provided many clues when it comes to discovering Kylo Ren and Snoke's motivations.

Supreme Leader Snoke towers over Kylo Ren
Supreme Leader Snoke towers over Kylo Ren

So, this is how Han's death scene is described in the novel...

"Ren unclipped his lightsaber, looked down at it for a moment, and then extended it toward Han. Smiling, Han reached for the weapon. Then Ren ignited the lightsaber -- and the fiery ref beam lanced outward to pierce Han's chest from front to back."

Well, you can't get much clearer than that. It looks like Kylo Ren definitely did kill Han Solo. So although that theory adds some nuance to the moment, consider it debunked. But there's another reason Han Solo's death had to be at the hands of his son: according to JJ Abrams, this moment is crucial to setting Kylo Ren up as a villain to rival Darth Vader.

Becoming The Big Bad

Killing off one of the original Star Wars protagonists was a bold move and one which brought many a fan to tears.

Han Solo's final stand.
Han Solo's final stand.

But this wasn't just for shock value. As Abrams reveals, it was crucial to Kylo Ren's villain origin story.

"Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history. So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing. We knew we needed to do something fucking bold. The only reason why Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters."

This makes a lot of sense: Kylo Ren had to do something truly terrible, something that would feel like a personal attack at the audience. And by killing fan fave Han Solo, Ren did just that. But there's so many other reasons why Kylo Ren killing his father is narratively cool, as this is a complete inversion of the end of Return Of The Jedi: Luke saved his father but Ben killed his.

Luke Skywalker in Return Of The Jedi
Luke Skywalker in Return Of The Jedi

Kylo Ren wanted to prove to Snoke that he wouldn't repeat Darth Vader's mistake: the novel reveals that Snoke told Ren the Empire fell because Vader didn't kill Luke. And yet Kylo Ren feels torn apart by remorse for killing Han...

"Stunned by his own action, Kylo Ren fell to his knees. Following through on the act ought to have made him stronger. Instead, he found himself weakened."

Kylo Ren's guilt is definitely going to have repercussions in Star Wars Episode 8, either by forcing him to question his actions or driving him further into the Dark Side. Ren is truly at a tipping point and I for one can't wait to find out if his story ends in redemption, or a descent into evil.

... is it December 2017 yet?


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